Sir — The tradition of packing food for travellers — a pre-emptive act of care — is an age-old way of expressing love. Train travel for Bengalis would be incomplete without luchi, shada alur torkari, alur dom or even metey’r chorchori for the odd adventurous soul. Even those taking long-distance flights — those going abroad to study, for instance — were plied with various goodies, not just for the journey but also to sustain them while they were away from home. But with the advent of fast-food chains, this form of caring has all but disappeared. People now find it convenient to buy food at airports and railway stations, and airport security often frowns upon packed food. Who wants love when one can have a McAloo Tikki?
Somashree Mazumder, Calcutta
Sir — A court in Barpeta, Assam, has granted bail to the Dalit-rights activist and Congress-backed, independent member of the legislative assembly from Gujarat, Jignesh Mevani, who was arrested twice in as many cases since April 20, after observing that the first information report against him was falsely registered (“‘False FIR’ rap on police”, April 30). This is heartening. But one wonders if Mevani would have received bail had he not had any political clout. After all, the number of detractors of the Narendra Modi government who are still languishing in jail is not an insignificant one. Mevani’s arrest was clearly politically motivated. This is ominous. If politicians and elected legislators are not safe from such arrests, what hope can the common people have?
Aditya Banerjee, Gurgaon
Sir — The observations of the judge who granted bail to Jignesh Mevani are important. The misuse of State power by the political dispensation at the Centre and in some of the states is appalling. Reportedly, 46 people have been killed and 110 injured in Assam in police action since the Bharatiya Janata Party government came to power in the state. In another state, the BJP chief minister, Yogi Adityanath, has openly encouraged encounter killings. This is a travesty of the rule of law.
S.K. Saha, Calcutta
Sir — Manufacturing cases against political opponents makes a joke out of democracy. That is not all. This also wastes the judiciary’s valuable time. Each time judges have to hear such spurious cases, some legitimate litigant is losing out.
Anil Maheshwari, Jaipur
A scene in the recently-released film, The Kashmir Files, shows a Hindu woman being stripped and sawed alive by militants in the 1990s as her Muslim neighbours looked on. Shockingly, this scene was recreated in Madhya Pradesh’s Khargone with a mannequin borrowed from a store as part of the Ram Navami procession in the town. It ultimately led to communal rioting and arson in several parts of the town. According to a document that a senior official of the state home department sent to reporters in Bhopal, 49 properties were demolished in Khargone that day. All were owned by Muslims. The Khargone demolitions then inspired copy-cat action in Gujarat and North Delhi. This has deepened the fear of first being provoked and then punished among Muslims around the country. This chain of events shows how even the smallest of incidents can set off fires that will incinerate the entire nation if this atmosphere of hate is allowed to prevail.
Alim Maksood, Calcutta
Wimbledon became the first standalone tennis tournament to refuse entry to Russian and Belarusian players. Against the backdrop of the Russia-Ukraine war, the organizers of the tournament stated that the move was to stymie the Russian government led by Vladimir Putin from deriving “any benefits from the involvement of Russian or Belarusian players with The Championships”. The decision of Wimbledon is unprecedented because of the way international tennis is structured. It is the most individual of sports, in which players act as independent contractors whose worth is decided solely by the magic ranking number next to their names. The link between tennis and national identity has been tenuous at best. While many nations use sporting success to further their standing in the world, tennis does not attach itself to national identity like, say, track and field or, in the case of India, cricket.
Indranil Sanyal, Calcutta
Sir — Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s verses have been dropped from Class X textbooks of the Central Board of Secondary Education. Erasing Faiz or his ideas of humanism, democracy, and diversity is not possible. But what will these exclusions cost our future generations? What will our children learn about the ideals on which the world’s largest democracy brought together peoples of diverse languages, cultures, food habits and faiths?
Kakoli Das, Calcutta
Gujarat’s Banni grasslands are home to 40 species of grasses — from a rare grass with no local name to one that almost only grows inside well-walls. But a woody invasive plant is encroaching on much of the grassland. This is resulting in the loss of habitat and resources for the Indian desert fox and could potentially impact the conservation status of this already range-restricted species.
Alam Khan, Calcutta